The Commerce News
August 16, 2000
Duct Tape: Don't
Leave Home Without It
I never leave home without it. My American
Express Card? No, my roll of duct tape.
A roll of two-inch silver tape stays in each of my vehicles and
another occupies a prominent space in the garage.
It has served me well. The first use of this venerable component
of Southern jury-rigging was to hold the fore-stock on my first
shotgun, a 12-gauge, single-shot Stevens model that may hold
the record for the most shots fired and least game killed. A
single application of duct tape lasted 15 years and was still
on the gun when I sold it for $10 at a yard sale.
I have patched radiator hoses, inner tubes at the lake, wrapped
packages, spliced tent poles, and effected repairs too innumerable
If you fix something with duct tape, it stays fixed.
I offer my boat as an example.
It is a winsome 12-foot aluminum craft that has been floated
in more ponds than a beaver could create in a lifetime. Sliding
it in and out of the truck, across the ground, over rocks and
sand has created a few small leaks that must occasionally be
The first application of duct tape came when I was prepared to
go fishing, only to recall that I'd failed to patch several minor
leaks after the last trip. Not wanting to take the time at the
moment, I applied duct tape to the bottom of the boat and went
fishing. The leaks were reduced by at least 80 percent.
If a little duct tape works pretty well, it stands to reason
that a lot would work very well. I removed the old duct tape,
painted over the worn down rivets, put duct tape back over them,
then painted over the tape.
Problem solved, leaks stopped.
One evening, en route to the lake a swerve to avoid a pothole
toppled a battery in my aluminum boat. The battery poles touched
the boat, sparks ensued, and the result was four .30 caliber
holes (below the water line) that gave the boat the appearance
of having been shot. An application of duct tape to the outside,
and another to the inside, slowed the leak down sufficiently
that we were able to fish without getting our feet wet.
Later, I improved the patch with Bondo (which is rapidly gaining
prominence in my emergency repertoire), then applied duct tape
both inside and out. The craft was seaworthy again.
An Ode To Duct Tape:
Duct tape is grey and tough as nails,
It always sticks and seldom fails.
Patch your shoes, your truck, your spouse,
Repair the roof on your old house.
Duct tape holds it all together,
Outlasting wear and tear and weather,
Its lusty silver shine endures,
As the worst of leaks and tears it cures.
Duct tape has its own elegant appearance,
a rich silvery color that generates immediate recognition. You
can fill holes, create a splint, tie down a boat, remove dog
hair from clothing, repair surgical wounds, patch heart valves
and mend anything but a broken relationship.
For that, you'll probably want to use Bondo.
The Jackson Herald
August 16, 2000
change a good move
There's a lot of talk in political circles
about "school choice" - allowing parents to pick which
school their child will attend. The theory behind school choice
is that competition between schools will serve to improve the
overall quality of education.
That theory may get something of a friendly test here in Jackson
County following Monday night's vote by the Jackson County Board
of Education to change its policy concerning out-of-district
For the past four years, the county school system had shut its
doors to out-of-district students due to growth in the system
and classroom overcrowding. But that closed-door policy was an
overreaction to the space problem.
The new policy opens the door for out-of-district students to
attend county schools, but it also puts in place reasonable restrictions
on how such students will be accepted. In fact, the new county
policy is almost identical to the one adopted by the Jefferson
City Board of Education earlier this year. (Ironically, Jefferson
adopted its policy so it could be more restrictive because of
growth, while the county system adopted the policy to be less
Jackson County, of course, is unusual in that we have three school
systems within our borders. The competition between those systems
has not always been friendly, but in recent years the three have
found new ways to work together.
So it is understandable that there was some hesitancy on the
part of the Jackson County BOE in moving to an open-door policy,
since such a move could potentially have an impact on students
attending the two city high schools, especially Jefferson High
School, which is less than a mile away.
Because it is so much larger, Jackson County Comprehensive High
School offers some courses and programs that smaller schools
like JHS and CHS simply cannot afford. The Advanced Placement
academic courses for college credit and strong fine arts program
at JCCHS, for example, are programs that JHS has not been able
to match on a large scale.
But JHS and CHS have the advantage of being smaller schools,
which appeals to many parents, and they have a tradition of being
strong academically in college prep programs. Moreover, their
athletic programs have deep roots in their communities, and that
serves as a common bond which goes back several generations.
So each of our local schools has certain advantages and disadvantages
and it will be up to parents to decide which would be best for
We believe that such freedom of choice will serve to improve
all of our local schools, especially now that they exist in a
friendly atmosphere where cooperation is just as important as
Jackson County Opinion Index
The Jackson Herald
August 16, 2000
politics will fail
If you had asked me in March what I thought
the top issue in this year's elections would be, I'd have said,
By the time Gov. Barnes got his education reform legislation
through the General Assembly, education issues were a political
hot potato. Surely, I thought, it would be part of the year's
Now, however, I'm not so sure.
It's true, of course, that education issues are always important
in elections, especially state House and Senate elections. State
government control over public education is no myth. Officials
can talk all they want about "local control" in schools,
but the truth is, the state and federal governments control 80
percent of what happens in our schools.
But my earlier belief that education issues would dominate this
year's legislative elections has waned. Not even listening to
state school superintendent Linda Shrenko speak last week to
the Jefferson Rotary Club changed my mind - the education hot
potato has cooled.
That wasn't true for Shrenko. She sliced and diced the governor's
education bill here just as she has been doing around the state.
It's a good stump speech and on some points, her criticisms are
on target. Whatever its merits, the governor's education reform
bill does have flaws, especially in the funding formulas. (Shrenko
is only too happy to point that out, in part because of education
concerns, but also partly because she is being encouraged by
some to run as the Republican candidate against Gov. Barnes in
2002. How much of her stump speech is legitimate and how much
of it is political is an open question.)
But for many voters, the flaws in the legislation are off-radar.
Funding formulas and classroom sizes and teacher tenure are all
nebulous issues to a parent whose main concern is limited to
his or her own children.
Republicans probably don't want to hear that. The GOP has been
working feverishly this year to get control of state government
so that when redistricting happens, Georgia will be made safe
for Republicans. Bashing the governor's education efforts is
a key part of the GOP strategy in this election cycle. Every
Democratic state legislator who voted for the governor's bill
has been targeted for defeat by the Republican Party. Education
was the key "wedge issue" that is supposed to help
Republicans oust incumbent Democrats.
But so far, voters are yawning. Outside of political diehards
and education insiders, bashing the governor's bill has fallen
out of favor and stirs little interest.
There are several reasons for this. For one thing, the overkill
response by the state teacher's union over the tenure issue turned
a lot of voters off. The tenure issue was a hot controversy,
but few voters came away with sympathy for teachers after the
union screamed and shouted about losing the job protection.
Another reason the public hasn't gotten up in arms about the
governor's bill is that predictions of massive tax increases
by local school boards haven't yet materalized. Although that
may come to pass next year, so far most school boards have held
tax rates down in anticipation of additional state funding next
But the main reason Gov. Barnes' bill has failed to develop into
a hot political issue this fall is that many parents support
Barnes' efforts even if they have questions about some of the
With Georgia's standardized test scores in the basement, parents
have been looking for someone to take on the "education
establishment." Gov. Barnes did that and the more education
insiders screamed, the more many voters believed Barnes had hit
the right target.
That parental dissatisfaction with public education has been
showing up in many ways in recent years. The growth of home schooling
is a major indication that a large number of parents have given
up on public education. Likewise, the growth in church-based
private schools is also a trend that indicates large numbers
of parents are willing to walk away from public schools.
Even among parents who send their children to public schools,
there is a growing sense that being politically correct in the
classroom has become more important than being academically correct.
That's especially true of parents of "average" students
who believe that too much attention is being given to the bottom
10 percent of students at the expense of the other 90 percent.
That dissatisfaction may be muted since many parents fear speaking
openingly about their concerns, but it does exist to a much greater
extent than most education leaders realize.
Gov. Barnes' legislation didn't deal directly with many of those
problems. In fact, some would argue that the governor didn't
go far enough to really reform public schools.
Still, many voters believe that whatever the legislative flaws
and shortcomings, Gov. Barnes did at least begin the process
of reform in Georgia. Republican efforts to get voters riled
up over the details of Barnes' bill have for the most part fallen
on deaf ears. Whatever the specifics, voters are glad somebody
is at least attempting to do something to improve public schools.
And that's why the Republican strategy of using the Barnes education
bill as a political wedge in this election season will fall flat.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
August 16, 2000
For Success In
School, Parents Have A Role
School starts Friday in the Commerce and
Jackson County school systems and students, parents and educators
all hope the 2000-2001 year will be a success.
Unfortunately, for too many students, it will be less successful
than it could be. But it doesn't have to be that way and parents
can do more than anyone else to make sure their children get
the most out of the school year. In fact, if every parent made
a conscientious effort, most of the problems schools have would
Parents of younger children can make sure their children are
appropriately dressed, have eaten and arrive at school on time.
They can read to their children, have their children read to
them, ask the children about school and show them that education
is important. They can be positive, make sure their children
do their homework and other assignments and stay in contact with
the child's teacher.
Even when the school children are older, it is crucial that parents
support the efforts of teachers by making sure their children
do assignments, get to school on time and do their homework.
They should insist that their children be respectful of teachers,
administrators and other students, that they give their best
effort, participate in classroom activities, and do not participate
in activities that will interfere with school. It may seem over-simple,
but it is important that children get enough sleep each night.
All children should be encouraged to read. Ideally, every home
would contain books, magazines, newspapers, even comic books
whatever it takes to interest the children in reading,
which is the foundation of success in school. It is impossible
to overstate the importance of good reading skills.
Parents should keep up with their child's work and not hesitate
to ask teachers, administrators or the school counselor for help
when a student is having problems with a subject or a concept.
In short, the professional educators will do their job this school
year. If the students and parents will do their parts, it will
be a successful school year.